Is Self-Pity a Sin?

Yesterday morning I had a good reason to feel sorry for myself.  I woke up at 1:30 a.m. in a quiet, comfortable hotel room and could not go back to sleep.  I’m used to insomnia as a nightly occurrence, but when 4:00 and then 5:00 rolled around (the alarm set for 6:00) tears of self-pity started to rise.  I had a five-hour drive ahead of me, and it seemed unfair that I would have to face that on three hours of sleep.

Unfortunately, I had been listening all day to John Piper’s audio book, Brothers, We Are Not Professionals, and he listed the particular sins he struggles with.  Self-pity was one of them.

Is self-pity a sin?  I had never considered this, until Piper’s words and my lack of sleep collided.  After much thought (and I had plenty of time to think about it in the middle of the night –don’t you feel sorry for me?), I begrudgingly have to agree.


Seven Reasons Why I Think Self-Pity Is a Sin

  • Self-pity is a refusal to accept a trial as a test of faith, thus inhibiting my own growth toward maturity and completion in Christ.  (“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete…”  James 1:2-4  NIV)
  • Self-pity demands that I am entitled to a certain quality of life that has not been promised to me in Scripture.  (Jesus says, “…In this world you will have trouble.”  John 16:33  NIV)
  • Self-pity dilutes my compassion for others, as I elevate my own suffering to a place of prominence.  (“…be compassionate…”  1 Peter 3:8  NIV)
  • Self-pity is married to grumbling and complaining.  (“Do everything without complaining…”  Philippians 2:14  NIV)
  • Self-pity ousts gratitude.  (“Be thankful.”  Colossians 3:15  NIV)
  • Self-pity fills my time with useless whining and moaning instead of prayers for help and rescue from the Almighty God.  (“Call upon me in the day of trouble…”  Psalm 50:15  NIV)
  • Self-pity will only accept joy that comes from reversal of circumstances instead of joy that comes from the Lord.  (“Rejoice in the Lord always…”  Philippians 4:4  NIV)

So, I accepted the sleepless night as a trial from the Lord and decided I would rejoice in the opportunity to trust Him for my day of travel.  I made the trip safely and wide awake (minus one 20-minute snooze at a truck stop).  I even came home with enough energy to unpack, do two loads of laundry, and write this blog post.

What do you think –life without self-pity?


  1. Alisha Smith says:

    Oh this post!!……just what I needed to read as I have been in the doldrums the last week not wanting to leave. (well wanting to but making little effort too) These words were so powerful and life giving and I am so grateful for them. My iron needed the sharpening:)

    1. Sometimes I hate that I wrote this blog post, because self-pity is such a comfortable place to sink down into. 🙂 But it’s not good thinking when we know that Christ is at work in our lives. I’m glad if you were encouraged, though! May the Lord help you to rise above the low thoughts of self-pity.

  2. My daughter just turned five and she loves to pout and have self-pity moments. Yesterday God struck me with the thought, “I never play into self-pity.” He’s not going to play the back and forth game with us because at the root of self-pity is sin. So I googled “what sin is self-pity?” and found your blog. Your list of ways it’s sinful along with verses is SO helpful. And that is drowns out the voice of God, WOW! That’s really good too, Rebecca! Thank you!

    1. It’s ironic that you would land on this post the day I find out we owe an unexpectedly huge amount of taxes, and I’ve been down all down. So thanks for bringing my own words back to me. We can both be encouraged! Thanks for taking the time to write me a note. That means a lot.

  3. Thank you for this. The Lord has used this in my life this morning! Blessings to you 🙂

    1. I’m so glad. Thanks for telling me! I just went to the funeral of a 91-year-old woman who had been born with birth defects. The preacher said she used her difficulties as a platform to show what God can do with a life, and she never allowed herself to indulge in self-pity. Very challenging to live that way, yes?

    2. Those are the sweetest words ever -that God would use me to touch you. Thanks for that encouragement.

  4. Rebecca F. says:

    The ladies at my church are in the midst of Priscilla Shirer’s Bible Study on Jonah. Up until last night I wasn’t getting much out of it. I thought, I am not running from God. That is, until I read this blog post (and your posts on complaining). What a blessing to realize that I can get so caught up in self-pity that I am closed off to seeing anything else…or HEARING anything from God that I need to hear. My thoughts of self-pity( and complaining and grumbling) drown out the voice of God. What conviction! Thank you!

    1. Oh wow -that’s a good addition to my list -that self-pity drowns out the voice of God. A sobering thought.

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